I found myself wondering this morning how we could ever expect the people around us to keep their promises to us when we don’t keep the ones we make to ourselves. I wondered if we let people ruin us with lies about love because we’ve never really taken the time to fall in love with ourselves.
I think maybe we do.
I was in a serious relationship for five months with a man who I believed (and my family and friends believed) was the love of my life. I was becoming friends with his ex-wife, spending time with his utterly adorable boys, and between the two of us, we were at each other’s places at least four days a week.
I have a long history of entangling myself with sociopaths; a step-father who led a double life with a second family, a live-in boyfriend who hid another girlfriend from me for a year and tried to strangle me when I finally confronted him with her in tow, another who conveniently never told me he went back to his wife… But it’s been 12 years since I’ve been tripped up by a pathological liar. I thought maybe I had managed to learn to read the signs.
Then I got a Facebook message from the love-of-my-life’s girlfriend on Thursday night, the one he had been seeing the entire time we were in a committed relationship. I honest to God had no clue. He was swapping out her things and mine depending on who was spending the night at his place. He was texting us essentially the same “I love you baby” texts. (I know because I’ve seen the screenshots as well as the sexting videos) He told me his mother was relentless and called him worried every night if she hadn’t heard from him. Of course, now I know he wasn’t talking to his mother. What a brilliant way to be able to tell another woman you love her while your girlfriend sits there smiling fondly at you… (Oh, and he and his ex-wife didn’t have an open marriage like he explained – at least not her side of it. So all those other girlfriends I heard about were just years of him doing what he does, what he was doing to me.)
Anyway, this isn’t about revenge. I wrote this all down for me to heal, not for me to hate. I’m just explaining what happened because it was quite possibly one of the most destructive things that could have happened to me emotionally. (To anyone perhaps, but my scars here run very very deep and they were gashed open again and now deeper.) The worst of it is the voice in my head that keeps screaming, “WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU? Why do these people find you? Why do you let this happen? How can you be SO FUCKING BLIND. You know why everyone always betrays and abandons you? YOU ARE TOO BROKEN TO EVER BE WORTHY OF LOVE.
BUT I’M NOT. I’M NOT. FUCK YOU. I’M NOT.
And I’m not the only woman (or man) to be here in this dark place. I know we all get better. Time heals. Yadda yadda. But that’s not enough this go round. I want to meet that voice head on. I want it to shut the fuck up.
So I’m taking back every day I gave him. Over the next 158 days, I’m going to date myself and do everything for myself that I did for him… and little bit more. And yes, because I know there’s a joke in there, I do mean sex as well. Girls, feel free to PM me with your sex toy/technique advice. And to anyone who thinks that’s crass or is pondering juvenile jokes, so be it. Love is a full package deal that includes physical touch… even if the only one doing the touching is yourself.
So I’m going to see if I can fall in love with myself. I’m going to see if I can be my own best friend.
I’m not the only one. We are all so many of us broken-hearted. So I challenge you too, my comrades of the torn and bloodied heart— for the next 158 days, let’s love ourselves. Maybe my list will help you make your own.
THE ROMANCING STARTS NOW…
- Make promises to yourself that you mean. Then keep them.
- Run. Run until there’s no more hurt. Run until you’re healthy. Run so that you can be completely there for yourself.
- Praise yourself for your successes.
- Hold yourself when things are bad. Promise yourself you will do everything in your power to make it better.
- Remind yourself repeatedly that you are a good person, but no one is perfect. And that you love the imperfect parts too.
- Be thoughtful. Put gas in the car before you almost run out. Make coffee the night before a busy morning. Do kind things that make life easier.
- Send cards. Leave yourself adoring and funny notes.
- Make yourself laugh.
- Take yourself out with friends so they can see what an amazing person you’re dating.
- Binge watch new television and commentate out loud.
- Cook yourself something delicious and sinful for date night every week.
- Read stories and poetry to yourself out loud.
- Sing to yourself. Loudly.
- When you wake say “good morning.” Ask yourself how you’re feeling. Listen. Say, “I love you.”
- Say “I love you” every night before you drift off to sleep.
- Smile at yourself with love every time you meet your own eyes in the mirror.
- Take snapshots, save mementos of good times with yourself.
- Do things that make you feel beautiful, because beauty is an attitude and attitude is damn sexy, even when it’s your own reflection.
- Paint your nails, do your hair, put on makeup, wear sexy underwear (hell — corsets, garters, stockings, do it all up) and enjoy the results.
- When things get rocky, have a talk with yourself. Forgive yourself. Give yourself another chance to be the partner you deserve.
- On day 158 write yourself a long love letter. – the one you wrote him the morning before you found out about the betrayal,—the one where you will be there through the rough patches, the one that lists all the things you love about yourself including the quirks and faults. Write this letter and know that you can be certain that every word you write about you is true. That the five months of romance were real.
Then recommit. And then maybe I can let someone else into the relationship too.
Sadly, I suspect that loving myself is going to be one of the hardest things I’ve ever tried to do. But the list starts with a promise and I promise that I am going to commit myself to this relationship. I’m going to start by sending myself postcards. Here I need your help, friends… If you are willing to help me, please drop me a line. I’ll give you something to write on a postcard and ask that you mail it to me on random day over the next five months. Or… if you are someone who has read my writing, you can pull a few lines from one of my books or posts and send them. This I’m sure, will help me stay on track.
You can send them to:
P.O. Box 862
Banning, CA 92220
And if you want to do 158 days with me… I’d be happy to send you postcards as well.
Now to go change my relationship status on Facebook to “in a relationship…”